Whati’s the Big Deal About Baptism?
by Fr. Jared
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT BAPTISM? Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It makes us think of the first sacrament which we all received, our own baptism. Why do we have to be baptized? If I believe in God and live a good life, isn’t that enough? What difference does baptism make?
Several important things occur at baptism. 1. We are forgiven of all our sins and the eternal effects of original sin. 2. We receive two types of grace. The first is sanctifying grace. This type of grace we receive only at baptism when we become united to Christ. The other is sacramental grace. This is the divine strength and help that we receive in each of the sacraments. 3. We become members of the Church, united to all the other baptized. An indelible mark is left on our soul. We are claimed by Christ forever. 4. We become adopted children of God. We are united to Christ into his suffering, death, and resurrection, and we become a temple of the Holy Spirit.
What happened to Jesus at his baptism happens to all of us at our own baptism. The Holy Spirit comes down upon us and God calls us his beloved son or daughter. We receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Baptism, not at Confirmation. Those gifts are strengthened and increased at Confirmation.
One of the most beautiful instructions on the sacraments comes from a saint named Cyril of Jerusalem from the 4th century. He wrote about baptism: “Now that you have been baptized into Christ and have put on Christ, you have become conformed to the Son of God…since you share in Christ, it is right to call you ‘Christs’ or anointed ones… You have become ‘Christs’ by receiving the sign of Holy Spirit…When you emerged from the pool of sacred waters you were anointed in a manner corresponding to Christ’s anointing. That anointing is the Holy Spirit… Christ was anointed with…the Holy Spirit…and you have been anointed with chrism because you have become fellows and sharers of Christ.” (Office of Readings for Friday of the Easter Octave)
These beautiful words remind us that our baptism does make a difference. We follow Jesus in his own baptism. Filled with the Holy Spirit we become children of God…other Christs. We are changed spiritually and internally, but we should change visibly and externally. Throughout our lives we should change little by little to become more and more conformed to Christ. Each time we celebrate the sacraments we are conformed more and more to Christ. Each time we come to Mass and leave Mass we should be different. Over the years, if we don’t experience a change, there is something missing. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to change you. Allow the Holy Spirit to challenge you. Be led by the Holy Spirit. Be another Christ! Father Jared